Jack Ross verdict on Sunderland's Checkatrade Trophy win over Newcastle, Wembley ambitions and naming strong team

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Sunderland are now just two victories from a Checkatrade Trophy final and Jack Ross has ambitions of leading the club out at Wembley.

Ross made six changes but still named a strong team to face Newcastle United’s U21s and a strong second half saw the Black Cats run out 4-0 winners.

Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

Kelland Watts scored an own goal within two minutes of the second half, Charlie Wyke added a second five minutes later before Chris Maguire and sub Benjamin Kimpioka sealed the win.

In the end it was a comfortable victory for Sunderland, though Ben Dawson’s youngsters can be proud of their efforts in pushing the hosts hard, especially in the opening 45 minutes.

The draw for the quarter finals takes place on Thursday and the competition is no longer regionalised, with Sunderland just two wins from Wembley.

A case of job done for Sunderland then.

Sunderland celebrate their 4-0 win over Newcastle United's Under-21s.

Sunderland celebrate their 4-0 win over Newcastle United's Under-21s.

Ross said: “It is a good way to describe it, I spoke beforehand about it, when a senior side plays an U21s side it is not ideal for you.

“There are a lot of other factors involved in the game as well but you couldn’t ask anymore from the players.

“They carried quite a lot of pressure on the shoulders with the circumstances round the game, we dealt with that well.

“People always viewed this tournament as one we could progress in and we have taken it seriously.

"We have managed to keep winning and are now not far away from getting to the final, we want to do that.

“It would be another big positive for the club.”

Read more: Jack Ross on Benji Kimpioka impact
Ross spoke beforehand about it being an ambition of his to lead Sunderland against Newcastle in a full Wear-Tyne derby, ideally in the top flight.

And last night’s victory whetted his appetite further for the real deal.

Ross added: “The atmosphere and the noise in the opening period of the game, it was a taste of what it is like in a proper one.

“For me, it is a drive to get the club back to playing in these games at the top end of English football.

“You have seen the rivalry, it is my responsibility to get us playing against Newcastle in a proper fixture.”

Asked if it was one of the strangest fixtures he’d been involved in given it was Sunderland’s first team against their North East rivals Under-21 side, Ross said: “It would be very easy to say no, it was just like any other game.

“That is how I had to prepare my players but I understood it was different, this tournament is unusual as you are playing against a 21 team but this isn’t our first team, to an extent, it is a mix of older players, some younger players.

“It is a very difficult tournament to describe at times. I hope I won't be involved in a game like that again.

"It was not a no-win as winning takes us through but people understood what I meant by that and the consequences of us losing the game."

Read more: Jack Ross on Benji Kimpioka impact
Ross said he would continue to take the competition seriously but stressed the league remains the priority.

He added: “The league supersedes everything for us this season.

“It has always impacted upon my team selection for these games and I don’t see that changing.

“We will have a busy schedule when we get past this month, the league will remain the priority.

“I have had to use the squad, each and every time the squad has been asked to respond they have done that. That will be the case for us.

“We have treated the competition properly.”